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By Shaina Frainetti May 12, 2022

Culture Shaping Art

The Arts of One World exhibition consists of artwork from various time periods, displaying an array of unique pieces from different cultures around the world. The Coffee Pot and Tile are two pieces from different parts of Asia that have completely different functions and values.

The Coffee Pot from China is a porcelain piece that is painted in an underglaze of blue, and has silver stands with leaf detailing. The subject matter consists of a natural scenery with trees, a sky and land, but also contains various traditional Chinese patterns and scenes from the Abduction of Europa (Unknown artist, Coffee Pot wall text). This 32.3 x 21.5 x 15.7cm coffee pot has a very flowy, detailed freehand look and has a rather long spout.

The Tile from Iran is a twelve-sided star shaped ceramic piece that is decorated in a polychrome glaze. This tile consists of various rich colours such as light blue, royal blue, yellow and burnt sienna to enhance the geometric shapes throughout. This 40.3 x 40.3 x 3.2cm piece has a very structured, refined look with symmetrical lines and patterns that are commonly used in Isalmic art, and has an overall look of a mandala (The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

The Coffee Pot and Tile were manufactured in the same continent, one being from West Asia and one being from East Asia, however they share more visible differences than similarities. The differences start with cultural and religious aspects: the coffee pot was produced as China had a high demand for porcelain pieces in Europe during the 1700’s due to the popularity of drinking coffee (Unknown artist, Coffee Pot wall text); as for the tile, it was originally made as a wall decoration for the Madrasa al Ghiyathiyya, which was a religious school built in Iran that was completed during the 1400s (Unknown artist, Tile wall text). This demonstrates that although each piece was created for a different reason, the great attention to detail for something that could have been simple, the craftsmanship, time and effort being put into these objects generate a greater sense of appreciation and bond these two pieces together. School and a coffee drinking session are two events where people gather together, and these pieces being so detailed and vibrant can create a better, more positive ambiance for the people around, making their overall experience more enjoyable. As for the visual similarities, they are both made out of ceramic, and use an underglaze for colouring, the rich blue colour being very prominent in each piece. In all, they are memorable as they both use traditional patterns and designs from their respective cultures to create eye-catching artworks.

The pieces both have a unique, vibrant look which drew me towards them. I briefly studied Islamic and East Asian art in the past, which is why these pieces caught my eye. I find it rather interesting how countries use similar materials, patterns and colours to create artwork, yet have completely different outcomes; the two artworks I chose being a good example to show how culture can really shape the way art is made and perceived. In all, the intricate details and designs used for the Coffee Pot, and the perfect symmetry and vibrant colours used for the Tile, are what makes these art pieces stand out the most.

Works Cited

“Twelve-Pointed Star-Shaped Tile.” Metmuseum.org, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, [url=https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/446971]https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/446971[/url].
Wall text for unknown artist, Coffee Pot, Qing dynasty, 1644-1911, The Arts of One World, Permanent Collection, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal.
Wall text for unknown artist, Tile, Timrud period, 1370-1506, The Arts of One World, Permanent Collection, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal.


About the author

Shaina Frainetti is a first year student in the Studio Arts program at Dawson College.

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